In 2005 my mother was diagnosed with dementia, and she began a slow decline where we became separated. Over the past five years she gradually lapsed into silence.
This artwork is inspired by a lucid dream in which I heard her voice clearly again.
We were sat together in a boat with two bench seats, set on still water and lit by moonlight. I became aware of a softness to the inside of the boat. I laid back into a bed of magnolia petals, a flower I associate with her.
I awoke comforted, realising how much I missed my mother’s voice, relieved that we were finally able to talk.
Ambiguous or ‘frozen’ loss is a kind of bereavement, felt when a person is present, but may not be mentally or emotionally in touch.
The installation is in The Swiss Church, Endell St. I’ve been thinking about this piece for a long time, looking for the right setting – I think this is it.
It will feature an 18 ft. rowing boat, hand built from old pallets, with a black-charred outer skin, the inside completely covered with copper leaf and filled with hundreds of magnolia petals.
The boat will be in the centre, balanced on its keel on a raised platform. It will be lit inside and out like a museum artefact.
Around the walls of the church will be sound stations, where the individual visitor will hear an intimate spoken word piece.
The work is supported by ARTS COUNCIL ENLAND.
I have come to understand that there are many people who are affected by frozen grief.
I want the work to express my loss and perhaps go some way to starting discussions that can help people feel less isolated.